Ontario, Canada Releases Details About Employer Reimbursement Process for Paid COVID-19 Leave

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Ontario recently enacted Bill 284, COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021, which amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to require employers to provide employees up to three days’ pay if they miss work for certain reasons relating to COVID-19 (paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL)), retroactive to April 19, 2021, and until September 25, 2021.  The government has recently provided additional information on how employers can be reimbursed for providing IDEL.

Under Bill 284, employees can take IDEL for, among other COVID-19-related reasons:

  • Taking a COVID-19 test
  • Staying home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
  • Being sick with COVID-19
  • Getting individual medical treatment for mental health reasons related to COVID-19
  • Getting vaccinated
  • Experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination
  • Having been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other specified authority
  • Providing care or support to certain relatives for COVID-19-related reasons, such as when they are:
    • Sick with COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
    • Self-isolating due to COVID-19 on the advice of a medical practitioner or other specified authority

Eligible employers may apply for a reimbursement of payments made to employees who take paid IDEL from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), up to a maximum of $200 per day per employee.  Applications for reimbursement must be made within 120 days of the paid leave.  After January 25, 2022, the WSIB will not accept applications from an employer for reimbursement of payments. 

Specific details about the reimbursement process were not released until Ontario’s recent update of its website, Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit, which now provides this link through which employers can submit a claim to the WSIB to be reimbursed.  Once a claim is submitted the employer will receive a claim confirmation number. The employer can then check its claim status  with the WSIB.

Ontario has indicated that payments are scheduled to begin by the end of June and happen on a bi-weekly basis thereafter. The government expects that it will take approximately two weeks to process an approved claim, and it has also indicated that the timing of payment will depend on the completeness and complexity of the claim.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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